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LIVE from the Camino Just back to Atlanta! Great Camino!!!


Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
We just got back home last night and I wanted to tell everyone we had a great experience. My daughter and I truly enjoyed our three weeks together and I think we will be going through withdrawals soon. It was strange not having to walk anywhere today!

I will post some lessons learned soon but wanted to put an update out here. See our blog if you want details fro the trip.

Thanks again Ivar and all the many people that have helped us plan over the last year for this experience. It was because of you that so much went right for us.

If we met any of you on the Camino, please let us know. It will be great to keep in touch.

The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Lessons Learned

Here is my list of lessons learned having been home for 4 days and not been able to get the Camino off of my mind. I broke it into Personal and Practical (I am a gearie at heart)

:D A joint Camino is not the same as an individual Camino- My daughter and I did this trip together. As a 16 year old, she was the second youngest person we met (one 13 year old from New Zealand was also doing it). I realized that our experience here was all about sharing the experience. We were not there to really figure out some deep personal issue that would tell us what we wanted to do with the rest of our life. We were not paying back a debt or penance to speak of for some big sin. (My daughter once said in her early frustration with the albergues, "I am 16! I have not sinned enough in my life yet to have to do this kind of penance!) :lol: You need to make sure that if you are traveling with one other person, or choose to travel with a partner for the whole trip, that you adjust your expectations. It will be less soul searching, and more bonding.

:shock: Build in days for weather, rest, or to change groups- Most people plan a couple of days to rest or to sightsee in the bigger towns. But remember that somedays the weather may be so bad that it is advisable to just stay indoors. Or you find that you are traveling with a group of pilgrims that you can't related to well. One German friend described this as the "fog" you are in. He said he got into a group for awhile that he did not enjoy. He was surrounded by this fog of the same people talking about the same things. He took a rest day to change to a different group and for him it made all the difference. You may also find that you are in a very large group and that albergue space becomes difficult to find. This happened to us going to Finisterre. We were frustrated to find the Albergue completely full before 1:30 in the afternoon in Negreira. But friends that came through the next day, said that there was plenty of space. Rest a day and lose the crowds.

8) Share!- This kind of crosses over the line a bit with several things, but create an environment where you share stuff with other pilgrims. We shared a washer with three other people once because none of us had enough clothes to fill it up. One man was so touched by being asked to do this, he repeatedly offered to buy me a coffee. Buy food together. Or medicine. Or soap. Just always think about doing things together and you will build many more relationships and enjoy the Camino much more.

:) Talk/Eat- Along this same line is to break bread together and spend time talking to others. We had only two opportunities to share a hospitalero prepared meal, but these were great chances to talk to new people. We had several chances to cook with others and share a meal this way. And we went out to eat with others on a regular basis. These are the times you will cherish more than anything else. Take the time to talk and eat with others.

:cry: Don't expect much religiousity on the Camino- I tell you up front that we came on the Camino for a truly Catholic pilgrimage. The religious part was very important for us and we tried to attend mass every day and pray in every church that was open. Often we had to go to lengths to find mass schedules or to arrange our dinner/wash plans to correspond. But I was surprised by how few people participated in this and how little effort in the albergues was made to have a prayer time. I guess my expectations were too high. We regularly saw 6 other pilgrims daily at mass as we traveled. We each got to know each other and shared that special bond. We would pass on when the mass was in the town we were in.
Only one priest went out of his way to relate the mass to pilgrims and to spend time talking with us on a personal level. Many would give us the Roncevalles blessing though and all prayed for our good fortune during mass.
In the US, at least where I live, the church is a vibrant part of my community and many of my closest relationships and friendships come because of that. We had more church members following our blog than family members.
But in Spain, and I get the sense in Europe as a whole, people have hardened their hearts to the Christian faith. Yet almost everyone you talked with was on the Camino for spiritual reasons. This confused me, because the Camino is a very Catholic pilgrimage. An Italian priest on the Camino told a friend that he thought the Catholic church was missing a great opportunity to open itself up to those that were on the Camino. I would have to agree.

:eek: Santiago will be a let down- Understand this up front. Santiago is your goal and you are driving and fully focussed on getting there. It becomes your aim and your obsession. You cry when you think that you may not make it. But once you walk into the Plaza and up the steps and get past the excitement of your accomplishment, be prepared. Santiago is primarily a tourist town. The cathedral, the pilgrimage, the botofumerio are all there for tourists. Even we pilgrims are part of the spectacle. It is the busloads of pilgrims from the US, Italy, Portugal, etc. that pay to have the botofunerio swung. They don't do it for the pilgrim mass unless someone pays.
But as my daughter learned, the journey is the real goal, not Santiago. It is the trip not the final destination. If you realize this, you will make sure to slow down and enjoy the Way much more than the goal.


-Carry a light pack. I mean the pack itself. We both had packs under three pounds empty and most people we met had packs that must have weighed 5-6 lbs empty. The Camino does not require a pack that can go to Everest. Get an ultralight pack and you will be happier.

-Carry only what you will need for a week. Meaning consumables. No roll of toilet paper. Lillian suggested a pack of tissues. You can buy more in any tienda. Same for soap, etc. We kept trying to have enough for the three weeks we were there, but realized, everyone is right, you can buy more of anything you need.

- Clothes though are not always that easy to get. My daughter wanted to have an extra jacket because it was colder than we planned on. In Astorga, we hit every store that might possibly have a fleece jacket her size. After 2 hours, no luck. Just know for some items in the "performance clothing" area or if you are a small woman, they are not that easy to find.

-Take into account jet lag- we began walking the day after we arrived in Leon, and stayed in the Albergue to boot. My daughter didn't get a full night's sleep for 4 days, and it just about cost us the trip. Take jet lag and getting used to the new environment into account. Your first few days will be much more enjoyable.

-It will cost more than you expect- I had read the rule of thoumb that it would cost 1000 Euro for the entire Camino. Since we were doing half of it, I thought this was a good budget for us. I was wrong. I found we spent more of housing than planned and on food. Though you may plan to stay in Albergues the whole time, they may not always be available, so your 5Euro cost jumps to 15Euro is you share a room with someone.

- Altus Atmospheric ponchos are great!- I would recommend them to any pilgrim.

- No poles for me!- Though I am a big proponent of hiking poles and brought them on the trip, we almost never used them and they stayed on my pack most the trip. The terrain was not as rocky and steep as I expected and I was more prepared, plus wooden staffs are readily available. I would have loved to have gotten rid of the poles but it was too big of a hassle to send them to Santiago or home.

- Put suntan lotion on the backs of your arms!!! We pilgrims always walk west. We get the sun on our necks and the backs of our arms. True lesson learned.

- Internet time costs money- in the US we do not regularly have coin operated PCs, so It was a bit of a shock to see how quickly you could burn some euro on the Internet. at 1Euro for 30 minutes, we found it difficult to blog and check email, much less download photos. Budget accordingly.

I hope some of this will reinforce what others have said here, or help someone in the same way others helped us in our planning. Bless all of you again that have been so gracious in giving advice. The Camino is a community while you are on it, and this forum is an extension of that community. We have our characters and our sages.

Thanks again.
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Rambler - what a fabulous post - thank you very much. It contains the wisdom of many footsteps!

Yes - it is a strange feeling not be walking but clearly you also have many memories and the experience has been enriching.

I also know what you mean about the religious aspects.Like many other traditionally Catholic countries I sense a great complacency both towards the Church and towards the pilgrimage from the Church - but in saying that everyone is respectful to pilgrims in my experience.

At first I also found it strange that Churches weren't busy with pilgrims but I think for many the engagement is with the many spiritual experiences of the pilgrimage on the Camino, with other pilgrims, with local people rather than the more formal expression which the Church represents. To each their own and it is wonderful that there is room for all. Every one.
Thank you...loved reading your blog...loved reading your post! In fact plan on making sure a few people I know who are planning/thinking about it read both!! God Bless you both, Karin
Re: Religiousity on the Camino

Hi Rambler,

Wonderful, practical, and deeply touching narrative from the father/daughter team!

Don't expect much religiousity on the Camino- I tell you up front that we came on the Camino for a truly Catholic pilgrimage. The religious part was very important for us and we tried to attend mass every day and pray in every church that was open.

A New Zealand Catholic priest celebrating his 50th year of ordination has expressed his desire to do the Camino, he is recovering from a hernia operation which precludes lugging a bag on the Walk. A question, perhaps on the wrong forum, does a visiting overseas priest need to obtain permission from the local Spanish Bishops to say Mass on the route? This lifelong desire is probably a spin off from his couple of years missionary work in South America more than 30 years ago, his Spanish is rusty but the remnants of the lingo could be useful with a bit of polishing.

The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The kiwi cleric can usually arrange to have his pack shipped from point to point-- some places have this as a regular service, but in others, he will need to book a taxi. There are often other pilgrims doing this, and they can perhaps make joint arrangements. I walked with an Australian couple who did most of the Camino packless.

In terms of his being able to say Mass, this depends on his faculties (a technical term, which has nothing to do with mental capacity!). If he's not under discipline and his celebret (more technical stuff--his permission to say Mass in his own territory) is kosher, then there should be no canonical problem. He should check with his diocesan chancellor and get the lowdown on any special procedures and get a letter of reference. He then has to make arrangements locally from church to church. If he's a regular (that is, belonging to a religious order), it might be even easier, but he should then have his superiors do the paperwork.
Re: Religiousity on the Camino

Thank you, oursonpolaire, for taking the time to clarify the situation where a visiting overseas priest wishes to say mass at Spanish churches on his Camino. This could be done if he is allowed to do so, and is invited to say mass, he would not put himself forward if there was a resident priest. I thought that a celebret was permission granted by the Bishop to say mass in Latin in the traditional way.

He then has to make arrangements locally from church to church.

The arrangement can be made nearer the time.

His faculties, and authority to say mass here, is so far still very much intact. Hence the need to get things moving as time and tide waits for none. On the physical side it is good to know that bags can be carried as hernias can pop out unexpectedly even after an operation.

Your quick reply is much appreciated and certainly makes this forum one of the best. My posting was to look at adding some religious element to the Camino should this be available.

Kwaheri, Have him check very carefully with his Dr. and perhaps begin a careful round of exercises/physical therapy before beginning...I had a hernia, many many years back and did the Camino in May with at least 18 lbs on my problem! Yes, I can tell, when I'm tired exactly where the scar tissue is....But...I've also got years of working out and healing ...So don't let it hold you back...Prepare well and go for it! Wishing all the very best, Buen Camino, Karin
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